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Lack of snow gets mixed reaction

Fri, Jan 17th, 2003
Posted in Features

A lonely snowmobile parked on the brown grass near a busy corner in Spring Valley beckons prospective buyers to take a look. The lack of snow in the region has squelched snowmobile activity and dimmed the spirits of avid sledders.

Up until a week ago, the brown monotony of ground cover could make Fillmore County residents forget they were smack dab in the middle of winter. Die-hard golfers were hitting the links at several of the area golf courses, homemakers were hanging their laundry out on clotheslines and kids on bikes were racing up and down neighborhood streets. It just didn't seem like January in Minnesota -- the way most people remember anyway. The nearly snowless winter has affected area residents and businesses in a variety of ways. Here's what a few had to say.Deb Zimmer, City Administrator said that the lack of snow hasn't really affected the City of Spring Valley all that much. "Without the snow removal, our employees have been able to focus on other jobs," she said. Jobs like trimming trees and cleaning out brush along the trail, which typically fall to the bottom of the list, are getting attention this January. Zimmer also stated that the two full-time employees responsible for snow removal have been redeployed to some inside projects, helping the City Administration get settled into their new quarters at the former Carnegie Library building. The salt and sand used to make roadways safer is purchased in bulk ahead of time and will keep until needed. "Winter isn't over yet," said Zimmer. "We still have a lot of time."Pastor Steve Kuno at Valley Christian Center on the town's west side hasn't seen much activity on the church hill, a popular sledding site. "There isn't much going on -- it's been really quiet," Kuno said. Earlier in the season, some anxious sledders gave it a whirl. "We had a light dusting awhile back.and there were some kids and even some adults that were out there trying to make it happen," Kuno said. The lack of snow even forced church activities, like the New Year's sledding party, to be postponed this year. At Kingsland High School, creative students have been trying to negotiate snow days out of Principal Strohsal. "With some of the nicer weather, I've had some students ask me if we could trade days -- having a sun day instead of a snow day this winter," Strohsal said. Nice try kids.Barb Mosher, a long-time Spring Valley resident and private music teacher wished for the white stuff around the holidays. "I wanted a white Christmas," she said. That didn't happen. "I have a big sign -- Mosher Music -- that I put out at Christmas time each year," she said. The sign, which features Santa playing the banjo never saw the light of day this season. "The kids said they'd help me put it up.and I said not until it snowed. Wellit never got up," Mosher said. While there have been some downfalls, Mosher has appreciated the dry, iceless roads. "It's just been wonderful getting around," she said.Downtown at the True Value Hardware store, proprietor Rhoda Jones admits that good weather isn't a good thing for her family's business this time of year. "Bad weather is good for us," she said. It's mid January and the shelves are still stocked with sleds, toboggans and shovels. A nearly full pallet of ice melt waits for that first big snow. "We haven't sold a sled yet," she said. "The lack of snow.oh my, yes, it affects us," Jones said. Wayne Isenberg, owner of Isenberg Equipment, a farm implement dealership on the town's southeast side has a different point of view. "The lack of snow affects our business in a positive way," he said. It's much easier for farmers to bring in equipment that needs to be worked on or for his staff to go out and repair machinery during fairer weather, according to Isenberg. The cost for snow removal at the implement dealership has been minimal this season, which helps the bottom line. Although Isenberg's business isn't negatively impacted by lack of snow, he does wish for a little white ground covering. His wish came true early last week. "It's nice to have a little snow on the ground this time of year," he said. "I think it helps people's attitudes a little."An attitude adjustment is just what area snowmobilers may be needing about now. While sleds sit idle on trailers or parked in yards around town, their riders are anxiously anticipating the season's first big snowfall. Peggy Merkel, a member of the Tri-County Trailblazer Snowmobile Club headed north last month in search of a snowier environment. Along with husband, Jake, and family and friends, the crew packed up their Arctic Cats heading for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. "We didn't even see snow until we got there," Merkel recounted. Although the party had an enjoyable time together, the trail conditions in the UP were described only as "adequate" by Merkel.The 2003 edition of the Farmers Almanac asks"Will Old Man Winter make his presence known this year? I think we all know the answer to that one. After all.this IS Minnesota.

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